UFO Ball or Sci-Fi Tube
The Value of Connection
Type of Initiative: Debriefing tool, Attention Getter
Group size: 1–225 (that's the largest group I've tried it with! It might work with larger groups, but I don't want to put anything larger down that I haven't tested.)
Purpose: This UFO ball may look like a simple ping-pong ball with two pieces of metal, but when both pieces of metal are touched simultaneously, the ball lights up and makes noise.
- Invite your group to stand or sit in a circle.
- Conduct a brief discussion on the value of connection. Why is it important? What are the benefits of being connected to a group or an individual?
- As the facilitator, hold the UFO ball in your left hand and touch one of the metal plates with your left index finger. Ask ‘Bob’, the person on your left, if he will demonstrate the activity with you. Invite him to touch the other metal plate on the UFO ball with his right index finger without physically touching you (meaning, no skin-to-skin contact between the two of you).
- Now describe to the group that you may not know very much about ‘Bob’, your partner, but you both work at the same organization (which is represented by the UFO ball). Explain that when you make a connection with ‘Bob’ exciting things can happen. At this moment reach up with your right hand and touch Bob’s left hand. The moment you make physical contact with Bob’s left hand the UFO ball will light up and make noise.
- Notice the “Ooooh’s” and “Ahhhh’s” that erupt from the group.
- This is a wonderful tool used to teach the value of connection in your team.
- Next, disconnect hands with Bob and invite the entire group to hold hands with the person standing next to them in the circle.
- Once everyone is connected hand to hand, reconnect hands with Bob. The ball will immediately light up and start making noise again. If one person disconnects from the team the ball will stop making noise. This is a powerful metaphor to debrief the effects on a team when someone is not giving 100%.
- The largest group we have experimented with was 225 people. It took about 45 seconds for the current to travel through the participants before the ball lit up.
Variation: For school teachers and educational programs, it can be used to teach the science of closed circuits with amusement. If you use several UFO balls in one circle, you can teach polarities. Invite a group of participants to try and figure out how they can make all of the connections light up with four UFO balls in the circle. This initiative of determining the polarity sequence within the circle can take up to 15–20 minutes to complete.
Variation: Use the UFO ball in a one-on-one debriefing session. You can have a connection with yourself. If you are connected to yourself, your treatment plan, your exercise goals, your relationships, your (insert topic here); then we can have more meaningful relationships with others. After all, how can we expect to connect with others when we do not have a connection to ourselves? Plus, the attitudes and energy we bring to our external connections have an effect on those around us. If someone is committed to being connected to their treatment plan, they can have a more positive impact on their family or their team. The UFO ball can help make this point.
- In what ways are we connected to each other?
- How can we cultivate the connections on our team?
- When someone disconnects from the team, how does it affect the others?
- Describe a time when you felt disconnected.
- How can we keep a healthy level of energy in our team?
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